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Why Do Some Trees & Bushes Smell Like Cat Urine?

By Chris Carson ; Updated July 21, 2017
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Amanda

One of the problems homeowners face is how to protect their landscaping from marauding neighborhood animals looking for a restroom. However, this is not necessarily the reason that some trees and bushes produce an odor reminiscent of cat urine. Whatever the reason may be that your yard gives off an unpleasant smell, you can take certain steps to reduce or eliminate the odor.


Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Alessandro Valli

Black pepper and/or pine cones are excellent deterrents to feline prowlers. Use vinegar to remove any lingering odor.


Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Diana House

If you have recently placed mulch in your landscaping or garden, this could be the culprit. The moisture in the mulch can begin to rot, giving off an ammonia-like odor. Try raking it to promote drying.


Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Christian Guthier

Certain trees, such as white spruce and locust trees, are known to produce a cat urine type of odor.

Other Plants

Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of chelseagirl

Box elder, the herb Valerian, and certain types of viburnum and penstemon, are additional stinky vegetation culprits for which cats are erroneously blamed.

Advance planning

If you're thinking of adding a few plants to your landscaping, you may want to ask someone at the plant nursery what to expect before you invest in what may turn out to be an obnoxiously noxious plant.


About the Author


Chris Carson has been writing professionally since 1988, specializing in topics such as cats, jewelry, history and English. Her articles have appeared in "Best Friends Magazine" and on various websites. Carson received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Arizona State University.